Day 9 of 31-Day Series “Your Last Health Resolution”

We touched on workout intensity and frequency in yesterday’s post.  Your frequency will ultimately depend upon your fitness goal.  But for general well-being, you will do well to aim for a minimum of three workouts per week.  At least two workouts should include resistance training.  Why?  Anything less will still allow muscle loss.  If you’re looking to increase muscle tone, I suggest increasing your frequency.  You also want to alternate muscle groups to allow recovery time.

IntensitySo how do you determine your workout intensity?  Everything stems from your goal.  Do you want to lose weight, increase muscle definition, build strength, or add muscle mass? 

You’ll also benefit from knowing your body.  If you haven’t worked out much before, or you’re unsure how your body responds, you’re in for a fun ride.  Those of you who do workout know the benefits of understanding your body.  Results come easier because you workout more efficiently.

Here are a few effective guidelines for intensity:

Fat Burn

If you want to burn fat quickly, use a method called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  HIIT alternates short bursts of effort with short periods of recovery.  Studies have shown a more effective response for fat loss using HIIT rather than a continuous pace.  Benefits include:

  • Reduced abdominal and subcutaneous (under the skin) fat
  • Higher calorie burn
  • Decreased fasting insulin levels
  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Significantly increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness

An example of a beginner HIIT protocol looks like:

  • 30 seconds of 80% maximal effort running followed by one minute of walking (repeat 4 times)
  • 5 minutes walking
  • Repeat 30 second intervals above
  • 5 minutes walking

That’s an effective beginner-level 22 minute cardio workout.

Build Strength

This is my expertise.  I’ve developed a solid program to help people build strength effectively.  Doing so requires a continuous progression of increasing resistance.  Your intensity will vary in different phases, but one thing is critical.  You must perform one set of each exercise to complete failure.  By pushing your body to a point of failure, it sends this signal: “Hey, if we need to lift this much weight we need more strength in this area.”  It responds by building muscle.  Otherwise it says, “No problem.  We got this covered.  Keep doing what we’re doing.”